Target: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe
Goal: End the inhumane production of snake wine
From the ivory trade to bear bile farms, the practice of traditional Chinese medicine has led to the suffering and abuse of countless animals, often for no apparent benefit. One such practice is the production of habushu, a type of snake wine, which has unfortunately received little attention in the face of other animal welfare violations. A curative alcoholic beverage, snake wine is made by infusing whole snakes with alcohol, either through drowning or cutting open a snake and bleeding and gutting it. Please demand that this cruel and unnecessary practice be outlawed.
Habushu liqueur is made in two different ways. The preferred method—which results in the characteristic striking pose—involves gutting a live snake and placing it in alcohol. The other calls for drowning snakes in sealed jars, arguably just as cruel.
Even though reptiles may have simpler nervous systems than mammals, they are capable of experiencing and perceiving pain. The pit vipers used in making Habushu are placed on ice until they lose consciousness. However, they are still capable of feeling pain; there is no anesthetic involved in the process. Once unconscious, the snakes are gutted, bled out, and sewed back up. They are still alive when they thaw, and subsequently awaken. Snakes die in a striking position, and are then placed in ethanol to preserve the body before it is actually prepared for consumption. This entire process is arguably for aesthetic purposes only, and involves subjecting a living animal to terrible cruelty simply so it will look more appealing.
Using the other method, snakes are submerged in sealed jars and left to drown in alcohol. Drowning may be quicker than the drawn-out process of eviscerating a snake, but it is still a painful and needlessly cruel death in the name of a curative that has no established medicinal effect.
Though the habu is not endangered, it is heavily exploited for habushu production and subjected to cruel and painful death for no necessary reason. Habushu is popular among American military forces, and the supposed medicinal properties continue to fuel demand. Simple as their nervous systems are, reptiles do feel pain, and eviscerating and drowning them is completely unacceptable. We must demand an end to such a cruel practice.
Dear Prime Minister Shinzō Abe,
It greatly disturbed me to learn that the cruel practice of drowning or eviscerating snakes for a unique alcoholic beverage is ongoing. Though purported to have medicinal properties, snake wine has no proven medical effect and its production involves gutting and bleeding live snakes, or drowning them. Neither of these methods provides a painless death, and thousands of snakes endure this torturous process for no arguable reason. Those that are gutted are given no anesthetic, simply rendered unconscious. Drowning is just an unethical and inhumane.
I urge you to outlaw production of habushu. Snakes are able to feel pain, and their suffering cannot be dismissed as an acceptable cost for profit or aesthetic value.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Scott R. Flicker via Wikimedia Commons